April 29 - 1992 - The Rodney King Verdict
The verdict of not guilty for the four officers who were captured on videotape beating Rodney King sparked the Los Angeles riots. Tellingly, they did not begin as soon as the video of King being beaten was shown on television. King had been speeding and then ran away from Highway Patrol officers in a high speed chase. When LAPD officers finally stopped him and pulled him out of the car, they struck him repeatedly with batons and, later, were heard bragging about beating him. Once the official trial process began, most people believed they would be found guilty. Yet the original judge had to be removed and the venue was moved from Downtown Los Angeles to Simi Valley. And the jury in Simi Valley acquitted all four officers. This inflamed already high tensions between police and the African-American community of Los Angeles, which had always existed. Then the riots were essentially stopped by the use of military force. During the riots, Rodney King went on television and asked "Can we all get along?" After the riots, though, Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, two of the acquitted officers were found guilty in Federal Court of violating Rodney King's civil rights and served time in Federal prison.